Friday Faceoff – Feed your Faith and your fears will starve to death… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffreligiouscovers


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers with RELIGIOUS ICONS/CHURCH OR TEMPLE. I’ve selected Dissolution – Book 1 of the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom.


This edition was produced by Pan in 2004. While I like the idea and the overall design, I think the execution ultimately lets it down. For some reason, this cover looks very washed out. The font is the strongest aspect – that lovely olden-style font nicely pops against the darker background. However that chatter both detracts from the design by cluttering it up and is difficult to read, as it is white against a light background. Both visually annoying and unsuccessful, it really spoils this one for me.


Published in April 2004 by Penguin Books, I think this image of a praying monk is a great improvement. Ideally, I would have liked the image to be just a little less gloomy – Sansom’s Tudor thriller is full of vivid description and tension, while his protagonist pings off the page. This cover doesn’t give an inkling of that – other than that ghastly bright red sticker they’ve plonked onto the artwork, which is a dealbreaker for me…


This edition, published by Macmillan in June 2003 is the best effort so far. I prefer the lighter colour palette and find that scene of the monks processing through the hall pulls me into the scene. The ornate title works well and while I’m not thrilled about the chatter near the bottom of the cover, at least it isn’t too intrusive. This is a real contender – I so nearly went for this one…


This edition, produced by Penguin in 2004, has gone for the split design. This rarely works well in thumbnail and I don’t think this example is all that effective when full sized, either. It feels as if two designers couldn’t make up their minds as to which image to go for – so decided to add both. I find the top image annoying anyway. The monastery buildings were generally repurposed during and after the Dissolution and only ended up looking like that a great deal later – so it isn’t even historically accurate.


This Dutch edition, published by De Fontein in November 2011 is my favourite. I love the ruddy light reflected off the monastery wall – there is clearly a fire nearby. And that sounds all too plausible, judging by accounts of how the monasteries were looted once Cromwell’s men got to work. And in the foreground, an elderly monk is praying… Though I’m dismayed to see even the Dutch insist on plastering their covers with chatter that by rights should be on the back cover. Which is your favourite?

33 responses »

  1. Oh my, none of these are that great, but I do like the first one. I love the font and the arched window with the light coming through. My second choice is #3 again with the lovely font and arched walkway with the monks walking away from us. I, too, am drawn in. So, those would be my two favorites. However, just like you, I don’t like all the chatter on the front and I don’t like the white writing on a light background, very annoying.

    • Thank you, Wanda! It’s a relief that you also agree with my critique. I’ve just reread it after publishing it and decided that I sounded really grumpy. Which I am, having sat up all night to watch the election results. But still, I didn’t want poor old Friday Faceoff to get it in the neck!

      • Thank you, Wanda, for your kind understanding… The political situation is nothing but depressing. I’m now going to turn away from all the nonsense and concentrate on the things I can change and influence.

      • Yes, I ignore it here too! I enjoy my little life. Everyone around me is so nice and friendly. There’s none of the stuff the news says is happening actually happening in my neighborhood.

  2. I am not familiar with this book, so if I looked at which cover would draw me in, I would probably say, none of them. Of the ones here, I think I like the first one the best with the one you chose as a close second. I am not sure why publishers insist on adding chatter to the front of a book either.

  3. This is a great choice of book – I never thought of this and I did struggle a little with this topic. I like your choice and also the Macmillan – difficult to choose a favourite between the two
    Lynn 😀

  4. I still dig that third cover! There’s something about the tunnel and seemingly endless rows of monks to that small, distant door. Where are they going? Why? And all their heads bowed, almost robotic. Tooootally dig it. 🙂

    And in case I don’t get the chance later: MERRY CHRISTMAS! A most blessed holiday to you and your loved ones! xxxxxxxx

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